Carmakers upgrading conventional sedans to keep them enticing

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With Americans going crazy for SUVs these days, is the conventional sedan in trouble?

Even though sales have tapered off a bit, the auto industry says no. And some brands are offering up new models to keep the four-door an enticing choice.

Case in point: Ford's new Fusion Sport.

It's the same basic Fusion that Ford sells in other flavors, but with a true performance theme.

Front and center, literally, is a powerhouse of an engine. It's a twin-turbo 2.7 liter V6 churning out 325 horsepower, sent though an all-wheel drive system.

And of course, there's some "sizzle to go with the steak" in the form of handsome up-sized wheels and tires, quad chrome exhaust tips making a healthy note out back, and sporty bucket seats inside.

If you know your cars, this new package from Ford might sound a little familiar. Back in the late 1980s they got a lot of attention with a car called the Taurus SHO. Yes, that too was a family sedan given a performance treatment, thanks to a high-winding multi-valve engine co-developed with motorcycle maker Yamaha.

Today, you can buy a car with more performance than the Fusion Sport, but you'll spend a whole lot more money. This car has a base price of $33,605, and by Ford's estimation, only some cars costing in excess of $40,000 can equal the acceleration and handling of the Fusion Sport.

Here's something really clever for the whole Fusion line this year: automatic pothole detection!

The electronically-controlled suspension can detect a pothole right before the a tire hits it, and literally keep the wheel from dropping into the hole by tightening up the action of the wheel milliseconds beforehand. If your car has ever slammed into a pothole in the past, you'll welcome this bit of technology.

Comfort and luxury is another area where sedans can still shine.

Kia is offering a good degree of luxury in its second-generation Cadenza. It has features you might not expect in a car with a base price of well under $40,000, like a very quiet ride and a good dose of style. Even in top Limited trim, the Cadenza is just shy of $45,000.

And Buick is back with the premium-feeling Lacrosse. The first two generations were a bit of a surprise hit for Buick, with many buyers jumping in from premium European and Asian brands. The new 2017 Lacrosse amps up the style quite a bit, and so far is turning heads on the road. The new Lacrosse has a base price of $32,065, though higher trim levels and option packages can push that price much higher.

Though sales have slipped a little in recent years, the still very popular sedan is definitely not going down without a fight.
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